Overloads Easily and bad behaviour
Sensory Processing Disorder
What is Sensory Processing Disorder?
Sensory processing is a concept used to describe the way in which our central nervous system (brain and brain stem) receives sensory input from the environment and the body, organizes it, assigns meaning to it, and initiates a response to it. For the majority of people this is an automatic, subconscious process that we are not aware of performing. How we process sensory information determines how we experience and interpret the world around us.
“Sensory Processing Disorder” (SPD) refers to the set of symptoms and behaviours that result from inefficient or poorly processed sensory signals. SPD is a complex disorder of the brain that affects both children and adults. Dr. A. Jean Ayres, an Occupational Therapist, is credited with developing the theory of SPD, which she originally called “Sensory Integrative Dysfunction.” New terminology has been recently recommended, identifying six subtypes of this dysfunction and using the umbrella term Sensory Processing Disorder to encompass all of them. Many people have a combination of more than subtype.
People with SPD misinterpret everyday sensory information, such as touch, sound, and movement. Some feel bombarded by sensation, while others may be unaware of sensations and may seek out intense sensory experiences. Those with SPD may also show sensory-motor deficits or delays such as weak muscles or a “floppy” body, clumsiness and awkwardness, or delayed motor skill development.
Treatment of Sensory Processing Disorder
Traditionally, SPD has been treated by Occupational Therapists who are specifically trained in this sub-specialty area. Occupational Therapy is always concerned with how people function in their daily life tasks and roles. Since one of a child’s most important roles is play, sensory integration therapy takes place in a setting that invites play. During therapy sessions, controlled sensory experiences and stimulation are used to help children learn to manage these experiences and gradually tolerate more difficult challenges.
During each session, the child is guided through activities that challenge his or her ability to respond successfully to the environment. These activities are generally chosen by the child, with the therapist’s guidance, to provide the right mix of tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular sensory input to meet the child’s specific developmental needs. The activities are carefully structured by the therapist, with the difficulty gradually increasing such that the challenge is always at the best level to promote growth and mature responses.
The child’s active participation, motivation, and exploration are important aspects of therapy. By allowing them to be actively involved, and explore activities that provide sensory experiences most beneficial to them, children become more mature and efficient at organizing sensory information. This improves functional responses to the daily challenges of life. In addition to clinic treatment, OTs will often suggest home activities, sometimes referred to as a “sensory diet,” to reinforce and enhance the effects of treatment.